Research in the Physical Oceanography Department is focused
on the description and understanding of the evolving state
of the ocean and its interaction with the atmosphere and the
Earth, and its impact on climate change. Traditionally, we
have identified ourselves with making new observations at
sea but our scientists also contribute importantly in theory,
numerical and laboratory modeling, and the design and fabrication
of new instrumentation.
We continue to work in many parts of the global ocean. This
past year has seen scientists from the department on cruises
to the Arctic (Peter Winsor, Andrey Proshutinsky), Hudson
Strait (Fiamma Straneo), the tropical Atlantic (Al Plueddemann),
the eastern Pacific and Hawaii (Bob Weller), the western Pacific
(Nelson Hogg and Steven Jayne) and the eastern North Atlantic
(Terry Joyce and Mike McCartney). In addition, a major new
program called CLIMODE (CLIvar MOde Water Dynamic Experiment)
was begun with its inaugural cruise in November. The field
phase of this ambitious study of the processes responsible
for the formation and maintenance of the relatively homogeneous
water mass found on the south side of the Gulf Stream will
continue through the end of 2007. It involves a number of
people in the department as well as several other institutions.
A major event of 2005 was the hosting of a visiting committee
composed of five well-respected physical oceanographers from
other American institutions and one trustee. The committee
spent most of three days interviewing all members of the staff.
They concluded that the “quality of the Department is
unassailable: the WHOI Physical Oceanography Department presently
remains one of the premier physical oceanography research
groups in the world.” The keyword is “presently”
and in their report, the committee offered 18 recommendations
designed to help keep the department at the forefront.
This past year saw the departure of Bernadette Sloyan who
returned to her native Australia to pursue her interest in
the Southern Ocean. We also hired three new assistant scientists.
Leif Thomas comes to us from the University of Washington
and has an interest in theoretical aspects of upper ocean
physics and its coupling to the atmosphere. Mary-Louise Timmermans
was a postdoctoral fellow in the department prior to accepting
a position on the scientific staff. Her specialty is Arctic
oceanography and she will strengthen our already substantial
expertise in this area. Finally, Annalisa Bracco comes to
us from the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical
Physics in Trieste, Italy. Her specialty is numerical modeling,
which she uses to gain understanding of problems related to
climate variability, and mixing properties of passive (for
example, floats) and active (i.e. plankton) tracers.
Four longtime department members retired this year: Marg Pacheco,
Chris Wooding, Jack Reese, and Anne-Marie Michaels. Memorials
for Dave Chapman and Ryan Schrawder, both of whom died prematurely
the previous year, were commemorated. In addition, funds for
a lecture series honoring the legacy of Senior Scientist Dave
Chapman were secured through private donations and a generous
award from the Office of Naval Research. It is expected that
the first lecture will occur in the coming summer.
Finally, my term as Chair will end in July 2006. A search
committee, headed by Senior Scientist Amy Bower, was formed
in late 2005 to choose a new Chair.
—Nelson Hogg, Department Chair